Roger Smith tweeted this short video clip of his mentor George Daniels’ Space Traveller watch displayed in the Manx Museum.
The Space Traveller at the Manx Museum. pic.twitter.com/8VQ8IowLt5
— Roger Smith (@rogerwsmithltd) July 16, 2016
I thought I would find out some more about this impressive pocket watch and this is it’s story.
Dr. Daniels was on a trip to Zurich where he met an important collector for dinner. The collector nudged him and said ‘what do you have in your pocket’, so he took out his watch, a gold Daniels pocket watch with independent double-wheel escapement. The collector said he had to have the watch and asked him to sell it to him. Dr. Daniels said it was not for sale but the collector persisted. Dr. Daniels thought this was an enormous compliment as he did not even ask the price, and so sold him the watch. Dr. Daniels immediately regretted selling this watch and therefore decided to make another which would be an improvement on the first both in terms of complication and accuracy. Having not fully exploited the first watch, the second watch would have separate calculations for each train, it was therefore possible to indicate both mean-solar and sidereal time.In the 18th century to check the accuracy of your watch you had to have a precision clock which was set by a star. This watch by means of having solar and sidereal time could make the calculation for you, the difference being 3.555 minutes per day.
To try and improve the calculation of the train which allowed for an error of 0.8 seconds per year Dr. Daniels contacted a friend at Cambridge University to ask if they knew of a mathematician interested in watches. He got a response almost immediately and extraordinarily enough the mathematicians name was Professor Daniels. The professor was able to calculate a better ratio of 0.28 seconds per day, which Dr. Daniels was very happy with.
Dr. Daniels used to say to people, ‘when you are on your package tour to Mars you need a watch like this, and when using the telephone for long distance calls you could switch the chronograph into sidereal time to cut your bills by 3.555 minutes per day’.Originally the watch had been referred to as the Daniels squared (2) because of the assistance he received from Professor Henry Daniels but Dr. Daniels did not think this was good enough so named it the ‘Space Travellers’ watch in honour of the American landing on the moon which was the greatest space exploratory journey of the century.